Showing posts from 2014

2014: Summary of a Year of Knitting

Through the twists and turns of a life-changing year, I kept on knitting. One project knit during the turmoil of spring and summer did not get recorded in pictures or on Ravelry, but I have a stand-in at the ready to represent it.

A toque for Ana. The pattern is by Anna Zilboorg from her book 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit, a favorite of mine.

Very pretty, but someone stole this out of Ana’s mailbox in Montreal and she never got to wear it. That’s OK - to tell the truth, the yarn was kind of scratchy and this was probably not going to be a successful hat in the wearing.

So, onward to a replacement toque:

Better colors to match her winter jacket, and much more satisfactory yarn. There is quite a bit of cashmere in that white yarn - mmmmm, soft.

Two pairs of fingerless gloves. The pair on the left was for Ana, the pair on the right was for me. The pattern: Hexagon Mitts by Sybil R.

This is a fun project that starts with the thumb, grows outward, and then down. The orange yarn in my pair is…

November Wrap-up: Obligatory Gratitude Edition

It seems like a blog post on gratitude would be standard fare from any cancer patient who finds herself doing well in late November. I am doing well, and I am indeed grateful!

My 3-month scan after starting treatment with Tarceva shows significantly diminished cancer in my lungs. There are some pesky swollen lymph nodes in my armpits, and I had a PET scan last week to take a look at them. My oncologist will discuss results with me this week. I’m feeling confident that whatever they are doing, we can deal with them due to one simple fact:

I feel great. Yes, there are pesky side-effects, but the big deal is that I feel healthy and vigorous and I am gaining in strength.

I’m grateful for good tools, all of which are helpful now or in the future to maintain my health. The ones most important to me right now:

- Mindfulness meditation classes with my friend Charlie Bradt, and support from his website “What do you really want?”. I started going to Charlie’s weekly sessions before my diagnosis, an…

Another Birthday

Today I am 63 years old, and I look back over a year that took me by surprise. None of us knows what lies ahead, and the Universe decided to use a sledgehammer to remind me of that truth over the past 12 months.

A year ago I was:

- a workaholic, juggling many different sets of responsibilities at my job.
- a person who got little exercise and who weighed more than I liked.
- glued to a computer screen for almost my entire day.
- feeling isolated much of the time.
- dabbling in mindfulness meditation, but without a practice.
- surprisingly healthy and prone to occasional feelings of well being, given all of the above.

Today I am:

- retired, and loving it. I feel no guilt at all about not showing up to work any more!
- a person with stage IV cancer.
- a person who is significantly more active. I go for a walk every day, and in general try to stay on my feet.
- still a lover of the computer and the smart phone, but not as tied to them.
- overwhelmed by the love of so many people.
- a pe…

Where There's Hope, There's a New Sweater

One of the issues I grappled with early after diagnosis was: what the heck do I knit now? Sweaters and lace shawls are wonderful to make and wear, but they take a while to complete. An added consideration is how much wear they will get now that I’m retired. I could certainly wear that gorgeous lace-bottomed cardigan around the house, but will I? Does this mean that I had best restrict myself to small projects and gifts for other people to wear?

Gifts are another issue all by themselves. It’s surprisingly difficult to knit a gift that the recipient likes, or uses. Socks are the best bet, but even they are problematic.

I have resolved this issue by deciding to knit what I feel like knitting. This means that I now have a new sweater. I finished it in time to wear on a recent trip to Cape Cod (although not in time to wear to my retirement dinner).

Here I am in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, by a memorial to Rachel Carson. Wood’s Hole is a fascinating spot, as scientific work provides a lot of …

I am not a rock. I am not an island.

After a busy couple of months, I have retired, and I am under treatment.

The treatment is a pill taken first thing in the morning. The medicine is very expensive, to all of us in the aggregate although not to me as an individual. Thank goodness for good health insurance. I do have a genetic mutation in the cancer and am able to take targeted treatment. I’m dealing with some side effects, but they aren’t as uncomfortable as full-bore chemo.

I’ve been taking care of business. New wills and powers of attorney are executed, my passwords are in a sealed envelope in the lawyer’s safe, beneficiaries are updated, and expenses have been dialed back. I finished my job as neatly and completely as possible, and left matters in good shape for my successor. All of this is liberating. As each task gets done, there is more time to simply enjoy living.

I am an oldest child, and I’ve spent much of my life being a responsible person. Now I am pulling back from that role. At the moment, I have very few res…

Knitting Blog: A Most Successful Sweater

Knitting a sweater to completion becomes more daunting as the years go by. The reason: My standards for success keep becoming more refined. There are so very many ways to screw up a sweater, all of which may result in an unflattering, poorly fitting, or uncomfortable item of clothing on which you have spent a long time, and probably a substantial amount of money. Yarn does not come cheap. I think many knitters have thought, while wandering through racks of sweaters in a clothing store, “I could knit that for twice the price!”

I started this project with one strike against it: I could not make gauge in my trial swatches. The yarn I wanted to use was Reynolds Coco, a discontinued yarn purchased at a bargain price years ago from a yarn store that has been long closed. The yarn was just a wee bit finer than the yarn used to create the original sample for the pattern, so the fabric that felt and looked right had slightly more stitches and rows per 4 inches than the specified gauge. I did s…

My World Turned Upside Down

A month ago, my life changed forever at an 8:45 AM doctor visit.

I had been “doctoring” for several weeks, trying to solve persistent constipation that was accompanied by a slight difficulty in breathing. After a variety of interventions had failed to solve the problem, my doctor ordered a CT scan of my abdomen and a blood test that flags lung problems. When the blood test results came back with very high markers, I received an urgent call from my doctor’s office, telling me to go back to the hospital stat for a CT scan of my chest. This scan confirmed that I had a large pleural effusion, or build-up of liquid in the pleural cavity of my left lung. A lung specialist drained my lung in the emergency room and sent a sample off for analysis. There were cancer cells in that fluid.

So what do you do when you learn on a Monday morning that you have lung cancer?

You say ungraceful things. You cry. You discuss the best options for care with your doctor, and follow his recommendations. And …


I’ve endured the weather of this cold, icy, snowy winter with few complaints, other than joining in the general conversation. The wood stove, 2nd floor office (where I benefit from the rising of heated air), electric blanket, down coat, and bounteous collection of warm knitted clothing have kept me warm.

What has been more difficult has been enduring loss, and grief.

First we lost Patches, our 17 year old calico cat. She developed a severe urinary tract infection in December. We treated her, but the infection returned in January. A bunch of tests didn’t turn up an underlying condition, so she had a second round of treatment. This cat hated being doctored, but somehow we managed to administer three weeks of medication, and she seemed to rally for a few days. Right about the time we were to take her back for a checkup, she began to fail. In early February we took Patches to the vet for the last time.

Almost immediately after Patches’ death, our cat Mewah’s long, slow decline accelerate…

Ice Storms 1998 and 2013: Compare and Contrast

My Christmas holiday is my favorite of the year. I take a week and a half off from work and make as few plans as possible. Knitting, spinning, reading, cooking and eating good food, spending time with family and friends, and general indolence are my priorities.

This year our holiday plans were rearranged by an ice storm that brought back memories of Ice Storm ’98, the only natural disaster I’ve directly experienced. We were lucky - the storm fell short of the ’98 standard in the end. Still, it was a major weather event that will affect the rest of the winter and that will require hours and hours of clean-up work come spring.

I wrote a 100 page journal in 1998, so I have a historical record to refer to as I compare and contrast my memories of the two weather events. It surprises me to find myself emotionally moved by the tale of those days, when we had a 9 year old daughter and 84 year old stepparent in our home. She’s all grown up and he is dead, but my words bring back memories of t…

Please support the EGFR Resisters Research Fund!

To help improve outcomes for people like me with EGFR mutated lung cancer, please donate to the EGFR Resisters' Research Fund. All donations are tax deductible and are in a restricted fund with the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, a four-star rated charity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!